The T Word.

OPINION| Anthony Dayton

Which one is your cup of tea?


Please be advised before reading on, should you choose to, that you are hereby being given a trigger warning: the subject of the next few hundred words could bring about an unhealthy increase in blood pressure, of foaming at the mouth and even of acts of violence in many readers, the subject being the current POTUS, the very President of the United States of America himself.

So virulent has proven the response of “the resistance” to the leader of the free world (full apologies to Canadians, but for the moment it is not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau), that merely to mention the name emotes a visceral response, so much so, that the name now joins the pantheon of words that cannot be uttered, the N-word is the classic example for our times, and so are known only by their first letter. Merely to mention the name, or anything related to it, even in passing, is to focus the listener’s attention, not on the actual subject, but rather on the T-word itself.

For example, mention Elizabeth Warren and her – shall we say, s-t-r-e-t-c-h – in self-identifying as Native, and the listener, in this case, my dear sister, will immediately respond by deriding not Mrs Warren, Harvard’s quite white first woman of colour, but Mr T, for the sin of labelling her “Fauxcahontas.”  

Being partial to cheap puns, and given that the DNA tests Senator Warren herself decided to take revealed that she is no more Native than the average American, meaning that the slick play on the word/name Fauxcahontas is not inaccurate, I rather thought the name clever, if not, shall we say, presidential, when deployed by the current holder of said office.

Not so my own sister, who was more than willing to give the erstwhile senator a pass in order to slug it out with her tormentor, he of the orange hair, and by extension, me, for having uttered the name in the first place. There passed a moment of awkwardness until we could once again regain our rhythm and discuss the difference between her southern climate and my more temperate weather zone.  

For one’s star to have risen, or fallen, depending on the view, so quickly that he must now be referred to by the “T-word” is extraordinary. It is surprising that sociologists, culturalists, psychologists and the like have not begun to publish a storm of PhD theses analyzing the phenomenon. Perhaps they have more important avenues of interest to explore, or perhaps they fear their efforts being rejected out of hand when submitted to their advisors bearing the five-letter name that shall be nameless. And so, I suggest to them The T-word or even Mr T (more apologies, this time to actor Laurence Tureaud) that they might not miss such rich, fertile academic endeavours.

Having acknowledged this singularity, it is time to unpack it, to deconstruct it so as to glean some insight into postmodern society and into ourselves. However, the good editor of this publication, while bravely permitting a very risky topic that could destroy his entire legitimacy, albeit not without the stricture of a 400-word limit (we are now over 500 and counting), might well have run out of forbearance at this juncture. And so, most rare today, this essay leaves you to ponder yourselves the Mr T marvel, unhindered by the random and unenlightened thoughts of its writer, who in actuality knows no better than you. (Though if given another five hundred words, would probably take a shot!)

Anthony Dayton is a Canadian life-long educator, sometimes writer, part-time photographer.

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We must all fight antisemitism to its fullest extent. Now!

What Others Are Saying

Enough alreadyOn September 3, 2018, Stephen Harper the former Prime Minister of Canada and Nobel Laureate Lord Trimble jointly published in Britain’s The Telegraph a blistering attack on the rise of antisemitism across Europe and with particular reference to Jeremy Corbyn the British politician who is the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition since 2015. Their article, “Corbyn’s Anti-semitism is a threat to all of us,” is reproduced in full below. No copyright infringement is intended.

Here is what they said:

The rise in anti-Semitism across Europe should be alarming to all of us, and not just for moral reasons. History shows that the mindset which embraces anti-Semitism rarely restricts its hatred to the Jewish minority.

Today’s threats against Europe’s Jewish populations are both different and more diverse than those in the past. Far-right extremism is still with us, but now represents only one slice of the problem. Radical, jihadist Islam is now the much larger threat. However, the far-left has also become a substantial source of anti-Semitism.

Today’s hard-left exhibits a particularly pernicious form of anti-Semitism– one couched in anti-racism rhetoric to make it socially acceptable in polite company. It is not the Jews, they claim, who are uniquely evil among the nations. It just happens to be Israel, the Jewish state, that is the source of such malevolence.

And so we arrive at the sorry phenomenon that is Jeremy Corbyn – a man who lays wreaths at the graves of anti-Semitic terrorists, and then thinly papers over his actions with nonsensical hair-splitting. Mr Corbyn’s comfort in the company of anti-Semites and other extremists whom he calls “friends” speaks for itself. While he claims to embrace such individuals in the name of “peace,” it is a peace that only ever involves the enemies of the West generally and of the Jewish people specifically.

From the highest levels to the foot soldiers of Corbyn’s Momentum, not a day goes by without another vile display of anti-Semitism, darkly hinting about an omnipresent Jewish cabal, controlling the media and conspiring for their comrade-leader’s downfall. In the meantime, Mr Corbyn cannot even pretend to take the issue of anti-Semitism seriously, all the while claiming to be “a life-long anti-racist.”

The naked reality underlying Labour’s refusal to accept the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism is that Mr Corbyn and his allies have no intention of stopping their overt attacks on the Jewish state. Perhaps the growing political pressure will force them to do so, but either way their views are now plainly evident.

His ‘peace’ only ever involves the enemies of the West generally and of the Jewish people specifically.

It is the far-left’s obsession with Israel that concerns us most specifically. Our organization is premised on a simple demand: a fair debate about that country, on the same terms which we extend to debates on all other countries. Today’s anti-Semitism all too often manifests itself in the singling out of Israel, depicted as a uniquely horrific place, responsible for all the ills of the Middle East, if not the world.

A fair examination would show that nothing could be further from the truth. Israel grapples with some of the most acute challenges the West faces in defending ourselves against jihadist aggression while maintaining modern, open societies. Israel carries this burden admirably, sustained by a democratic polity and a civil judiciary that, in some instances, surpass our own practices. It does this despite having been repeatedly tested under fire in ways our own citizens would simply not tolerate.

It is time to strip away all the rhetoric and rationalizations. Mr Corbyn and his allies hate Israel uniquely and obsessively. Under his leadership, Israel – and thus any Jew daring to identify with it – will face relentless slander. He, and those who share such malignant views, must be exposed and opposed at every opportunity.

Labeling journalists “the enemy of the people.” Oh, America! Where are you heading?

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!   1:48 PM – 17 Feb 2017”

-President Trump

 “When American leaders stand up for a free press, they embolden courageous journalists who put their lives and liberty on the line to report the news. And when American leaders fall short, they embolden the autocrats who seek to repress those journalists.”

– The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

     by Alan Simons

Last month, A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of The New York Times, received a request from the White House to meet with President Trump. According to the Publisher “This was not unusual; there has been a long tradition of New York Times publishers holding such meetings with presidents and other public figures who have concerns about coverage.”

Not long after his meeting with the president, A.G. Sulzberger felt obliged to issue a statement. He said:

“My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.

I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.

I told him that although the phrase “fake news” is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists “the enemy of the people.” I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.

I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.

Throughout the conversation I emphasized that if President Trump, like previous presidents, was upset with coverage of his administration he was of course free to tell the world. I made clear repeatedly that I was not asking for him to soften his attacks on The Times if he felt our coverage was unfair. Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. On August 15, 2018, CPJ issued the following statement on US press freedom:

In recent weeks CPJ has noticed an uptick in interest from editorial boards of U.S. publications on issues related to press freedom in the United States. In light of this, the following data and reporting may be helpful.

CPJ systematically tracks the killing and imprisonment of journalists around the world, and reports on threats and attacks against them. We are also one of the managing partners of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a joint initiative of 30 organizations dedicated to defending press freedom.

According to CPJ research, in 2018:

Four journalists and one media worker have been murdered (at the Capital Gazette)

Another journalist, Zack Stoner, was killed in Chicago, but CPJ is still investigating whether the motive is related to his journalism.

This is the deadliest year for journalists in the United States since CPJ began keeping records in 1992. At this point in 2018, the United States is the third deadliest country globally after Afghanistan and Syria.

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

In 2018, at least 24 journalists were physically attacked (ranging from being shoved or having equipment damaged, to more serious physical assaults). In 2017, at least 45 journalists were physically attacked.

In 2018, at least three journalists have been arrested in the U.S. in the course of their work. In 2017, at least 34 journalists were arrested.

Since the beginning of 2017, the Department of Justice has issued indictments in at least four leak prosecutions. In at least one case, a journalist’s records were subpoenaed.

An international delegation of global press freedom groups led by CPJ in January found that journalists face a range of threats including physical and verbal harassment, and that press freedom in Missouri and surrounding states has worsened in recent years.

Covering white nationalism and the far right is a dangerous beat in the United States. CPJ has documented threats, both online and off, to reporters who cover these movements.

Protests are among the most dangerous assignments for journalists:

CPJ research shows that journalists of colour face a unique set of threats when covering protests.

Since the beginning of 2017, the S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented at least 31 journalists arrested at protests, while 36 have faced some form of physical attack or interference at protests.

CPJ has also documented how the police crowd-control tactic known askettlingcan sweep up journalists and result in their arrest.

The White House’s charged rhetoric on “fake news” not only undermines the work of the media in the U.S., it emboldens autocratic leaders around the world. Authorities in countries including China, Cambodia, Egypt, Philippines, Syria, and Poland have adopted President Trump’sfake news” epithet to justify censorship.

In the past year, Canada has also seen an increase of attacks against its journalists. On August 24, 2017, Global News reported,Black Bloc warning urges more violence against Canadian journalists. An anti-fascist group whose members assaulted two Global News journalists at a demonstration in Quebec last weekend defended their actions Thursday and threatened more violence against journalists covering future protests in order to, according to the post, “make demonstrations safer” for the group. In an anonymous statement posted online titled “No face, no case: in defence of smashing corporate media cameras” the group said it wanted to “offer an explanation” for why a Global News camera was smashed and reporter Mike Armstrong was assaulted and pushed down a staircase.” And this past week, A Canadian journalist was physically attacked at an anti-hate rally in Toronto.

To quote the American author, Naomi Wolf: “Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the ’30s, East Germany in the ’50s, Czechoslovakia in the ’60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the ’70s, China in the ’80s and ’90s – all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists.” 

Today, the Editorial Board of The Boston Globe said this about Trump: “A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press. Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather “The enemy of the people.” This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences.

They added:

“Replacing a free media with a state-run media has always been a first order of business for any corrupt regime taking over a country. Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current U.S. administration are the “enemy of the people.” This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president much like an old-time charlatan threw out “magic” dust or water on a hopeful crowd.

“The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom,” wrote John Adams.

For more than two centuries, this foundational American principle has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today it is under serious threat. And it sends an alarming signal to despots, from Ankara to Moscow, Beijing to Baghdad, that journalists can be treated as a domestic enemy.”

Which brings me to President Trump, with his pernicious thirst for personally mocking journalists and the media they work for. How much have his hate-mongering words been instrumental in giving the public approval to abuse journalists?

Oh, America! Where are you heading?